Q: I’ve heard many people on a gluten-free diet don’t get enough vitamins, minerals and fiber. How do you avoid this?
A: Gluten-free diets can be limited in variety, with white-rice bread, rice cakes, rice crackers and white rice as staples. Also, many commercial gluten-free products such as breads, cereals, pasta and flours are low in iron, B vitamins and fiber because they are made with refined flours and starches such as white rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca and/or potato starch. Following are some tips to help boost the quality of your diet.
Go for Enriched: Food regulations in the United States and Canada allow for enrichment of gluten-free foods. Check the ingredient listing to see if a product contains added vitamins and minerals.
Whole Grains, Fiber: Incorporate whole grains into your diet wherever possible. They contain the entire grain seed – the bran, germ and endosperm, which has more vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber than refined grains. Fiber can play a role in the prevention of coronary artery disease, diabetes and colon cancer. To prevent abdominal pain and gas, gradually increase your fiber intake and drink plenty of fluids.
Iron and Bones: Those newly diagnosed with celiac disease often have iron deficiency anemia because they have not been able to absorb adequate iron and other nutrients. A strict gluten-free diet will allow the intestinal villi to heal and nutrients to be absorbed properly. But the length of time for this varies, so it’s important to get plenty of iron-rich foods.
Bone disease is common in those with celiac disease. You should eat three to four servings of low-fat milk products each day. If you are unable to consume enough dairy products, talk to your doctor or dietitian about calcium and vitamin D supplements.
|What You Need
||Where to Get|
|Enriched products||Ener-G Foods, Enjoy Life Foods, Food-Tek, Gluten Free Café, Gluten-Free Creations Bakery, Glutino, Kinnikinnick, and Maplegrove Gluten Free Foods (Pastato Pasta).|
|Whole grains||Brown rice, corn, flax, millet, oats (pure, uncontaminated), sorghum, teff, wild rice, amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa.|
|Fibre||Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried beans, peas and lentils. Also, high fibre grains, flours and seeds such as amaranth, ground flax, mesquite flour, legume flours, quinoa, rice bran, rice (brown, black, red, wild) and teff.|
|Iron||Lean red meat, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, clams, shrimp, oysters and sardines. Also: legumes, nuts, seeds, dried fruits (apricots, prunes, raisins), amaranth, ground flax, millet flour, legume flours, oat (pure, uncontaminated) flour, quinoa, nut flours, teff and rice bran.|
|Calcium and vitamin D||Milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as fortified orange juice and soy beverages.|
Shelley Case, RD, is an international celiac nutrition expert, consulting dietitian and author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. See www.glutenfreediet.ca. Shelley Case is on the advisory boards of the Canadian Celiac Association, the Celiac Disease Foundation and the Gluten-Free Intolerance Group. The editors at Allergic Living recommend her book Gluten-Free Diet, a vital resource for those interested in celiac disease and living gluten-free.